The new Lebanese government adopted on Wednesday two landmark decrees to define oil and gas exploration blocks, which could give a much-needed start to tendering offshore reserves in Lebanon’s portion of the prolific Levant Basin in the Mediterranean.
“The two oil decrees have been decided in the first achievement for the government,” Reuters reports, quoting a tweet by Lebanon’s foreign minister Gibran Bassil during the first cabinet meeting.
Lebanon -- which shares the Levant Basin with Israel, Cyprus and Syria -- has been far behind Israel and Cyprus in exploring and developing its share of resources due to political impasse over the past few years, a dispute with Israel over Lebanon’s southern maritime border, and the lack of the legislation dividing its waters into exploration blocks.
Early in the 2000s, seismic surveys showed that the Levant Basin held significant oil and gas resources offshore Lebanon, Cyprus and Israel.
According to the BBC, the two key pieces of legislation which Lebanon had been struggling to finalize for years were the division of Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) into blocks and how the state and exploration companies would regulate the resources exploitation and development.
Back in 2010, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated a mean of 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil and a mean of 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas in the Levant Basin.
After years of delay, Lebanon’s petroleum authority finally obtained in mid-2016 seismic surveys which showed that Lebanon’s portion of the Levant Basin shows promising oil and gas reserves. Oil reservoirs in the southern region, particularly in Blocks 8 and 9, could have significant potential, the surveys showed.
So far, political impasse has stalled the bidding for the Lebanese part of the Levant Basin, but today’s landmark legislation adoption would mean that Lebanon could be en route to potentially finding massive reserves in the same basin in which its neighbor Israel has made two large natural gas finds, the giant Leviathan field and the already-producing Tamar field.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.